It’s always such an adventure to spin a new batt. The very nature of batt creation means each one will be unique. In my last post, I mentioned the batts I got at SAFF this year.
The first one I decided to spin was one of the ones from River’s Edge Fiber Arts. The colorway was named “Maple Leaf”, and I loved the rich, muted colors the minute I laid eyes on it. It’s a blend of 70% merino and 30% mulberry silk noils. Noils are little nubby things that give yarn a wonderful texture.
I spun a little sample first, and found that the ply ration needed to be higher than I thought. So I spun the rest with an 8-1 ratio and plied it (2-ply) with 9-1 and that was perfect. I’m delighted with the way it came out!
As I’ve mentioned in the past, SAFF (the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) is hands-down my favorite place to buy fiber for spinning. The choices! The colors! And at that show, my favorite fiber vendor is the Trading Post for Fiber Arts. So imagine my disappointment at their absence this year. I really missed the jaw-dropping pleasure I’ve experienced in their booth in the past.
I entered just one skein of handspun yarn in this year’s SC State Fair back in October. Yes, it’s December now, so I’m a little late with this post.
It was a fractal spin of 100% bombyx silk, dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks. I did it as a two-ply, with a 1-6 split. That means I split the braid in half long-ways, then split one of those halves long-ways again into 6 long narrow strips. I spun the “whole” half all in one go, then the 6 long strips end-to-end. So I had two bobbins, one with long color changes and the other with quick color changes. Those got plied together.
This type of silk fiber looks best to me as a consistent yarn, and I’m happy to say it came out well in that regard. And I won first place with it!
I had 4 skeins of this fiber in the Nosegay colorway, and I spun them all the same way (more or less). A couple of lovely things will result when I get around to knitting them up.
Back in 2015, when I was a new spinner, I tackled some beautiful silk hankies. They are nothing like “regular” fiber.
The basic technique is to peel off one (very) thin hanky, poke a hole in the middle, and draft it out however much you want prior to spinning. The less you draft them ahead of time, the more you must do when actually spinning. The fibers are very long and it is a challenge to draft them at all while spinning. It actually hurts your hands because silk is a very tough fiber.
Forward to the present. I want to knit a shawl using the hanky yarn I spun way back then, BUT I also want to include some undyed hanky silk (which is pearlescent white) with the purple/gold/blue that I have from before. That means hanky spinning!
Luckily, I know more now than I did then. I very quickly realized that this is a time when I want to pre-draft the fiber out COMPLETELY before spinning. That way I have more control over the drafting process, and no damage to my hands while spinning. The spinning process in this case is actually more like plying, because I am just making sure there’s enough twist as I put it through. I’m spinning it on 12:1 and feeding about an inch with each treadle.
Copper and Glass Bead Shelf Pendant With a Sterling Silver Chain
I love the Internet. When I’m feeling stuck, creatively, I can go on Pinterest and see all kinds of wonderful images that get me freshly inspired.
Lately I’ve been seeing a LOT of pictures of work by Mary Hettmansperger. I love the way she uses simple techniques to make gorgeous one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Her work really appeals to me visually and artistically.
So I did some digging online, and found several of her books on the used book market. I got 3 of them and have begun working my way through her projects – taking her techniques and making them mine. My last couple of posts about Fooling Around with Copper were about some of this work.
My only challenge, if you will, is that she uses commercial chains for her pendants and I prefer to make my own. Some of her designs don’t lend themselves well to the thicker nature of handmade chains, so I’m having to figure out how *I* want to do them.
These are both copper. The round piece was torched, high oxygen, then soaked in hot vinegar. The other piece was previously etched with ferric chloride, then lightly salted & subjected to ammonia fumes to produce the blue patina.
I’m working with copper a lot these days. It’s beautiful in its own right and has really interesting properties.
Today, for example, I worked on the components for a pair of earrings. I’ve been reading up on ways to put patinas on metal. I have a little booklet by Charles Lewton-Brain, Patinas For Small Studios, that has tons of cool ideas. Including, for dual-gas torches, heating copper with the oxygen level boosted higher than usual. Oh, mama, did that ever work! That is the only thing I did to these strips of copper, & check out those lovely blues and purples.
I am knitting a shawl for my sister out of some of my fractal-spun yarn. This is the teal and rust yarn that I spun last summer, described in post One Fractal Down, on to the Next (This would be “the next”). As as side note, this yarn won first place in the “Plied Yarn” category in this year’s SC State Fair!!!
But the real secret to fractal yarn is how it comes out when you knit it. The way the colors progress is always a revelation, and beautiful.
It seems like this year is just flying by. All kinds of wonderful things have been happening lately, including winning two First Place awards at the SC State Fair for handspun yarn. More about that in an upcoming post!
What I’m focusing on right now is getting back into the world of street fairs and art shows with my jewelry work. It’s been a long time! I’m taking part in the upcoming Pecan Festival in Florence, SC, sharing a booth with other members of my fiber guild. I have put together a list of items I want to have ready to sell, and I’ve been busy at my bench. One of these days I’ll put together a gallery page, or at the very least, I’ll do another post with more pictures of other items.
Today I completed this pendant made with torched copper, Mother of Pearl, and poppy jasper. There were some different kinds of challenges getting it together! I had to reflect on the things – tools and supplies and skills – that made it possible, and feel grateful for them all. Including a disk cutter set, dapping block, draw plate for wire, 4mm poppy jasper beads, and a bead reamer to make them fit on the drawn-down wire. And the experience and patience to keep breathing and keep trying until I got it the way I want it.